I heard my stake president speak twice in the last few weeks – once at our ward conference and once at a mission fireside. The talks shared a theme of personal revelation. In both talks he spoke about the need for personal investigation before seeking personal revelation.
In the mission fireside talk he told a story of something that had happened to him that day. He runs a wound clinic at a local hospital and had a patient who had been coming for a long time (later he told me several years) without substantial progress, and they had begun to discuss the possibility of amputating her leg. He had given her the name of a doctor who could tell her all about artificial limbs and what life might be like with one. And she also received names of amputees she could talk to about their experience.
When she returned to the wound clinic, my stake president asked her what she wanted to do. She said she did not know. He asked her if she had spoken to the doctor or to the amputees. She had not. He told her, “Of course you do not know what you want to do. You have not investigated this alternative.”
Looking from the outside, one might assume that she was afraid to make the choice, or perhaps she wanted the doctor to make the choice for her. But he had given her tools to make a decision for herself.
His counsel to the attendees at the fireside was to continue to investigate the church, to study the Book of Mormon, to live the commandments, to explore the blessings of being a member of the Lord’s church. Then, he said, personal revelation can come. Then, Moroni’s promise can be fulfilled.
Hearing him, I reflected on my teenage son about whom I blogged recently. He’s in that same age that Joseph Smith was when Joseph wondered what to do about religion. My son also wonders how to make sense of it all. Joseph’s quest was to find what church to join, to find which was right. My son’s is to discover if God is really there and if he should stay in church (any church). But in both cases, the resolution is made possible by what my stake president taught.
I shared with my son the story our stake president told. And I invited him to continue to investigate. And he is doing that. To his credit, he is not acting out of laziness, but out of a desire to find resolution, and I respect and admire him for that.
As I reflected on my own experience, I realize that my stake president is right. As I investigated, I learned enough to seek and understand personal revelation which contributed to choices I made in my life. And I’m glad I did.